Flag of Russia

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Flag of Russia
Flag of Russia.svg
Name Триколор
Use Civil and state flag, civil and state ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 11 May (29 April O.S.) 1696
(de facto for vessels)
(de facto for land use)
12 August 1991
(as flag of RSFSR)
11 December 1993
(current version)
Design A horizontal tricolour of white, blue and red
Flag of Russia (Kremlin.ru).svg
Variant flag of Russia
Proportion 2:3
Design Same as the colors above, but specified by the Government's website.

The flag of Russia (Russian: Флаг России) is a tricolor flag consisting of three equal horizontal fields: white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant ships and became official as the flag of the Tsardom of Russia in 1696. It remained in use until the establishment of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic in 1917. During the Soviet Union's existence, it used the flag with the red field with the golden hammer and sickle and the golden bordered red star on top. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the pre-revolutionary tricolor was re-introduced as the flag of the Russian Federation in 1991 in the 1:2 ratio. The Tsarist tricolor was fully restored in 1993 after the constitutional crisis as the current flag.


Practice fight of the Dutch Fleet in the honour of Tzar Peter the Great, 1697

Two accounts of the flag's origin connect it to the tricolor used by the Dutch Republic (the flag of the Netherlands).[1][2]

The earliest mention of the flag occurs during the reign of Alexis I, in 1668, and is related to the construction of the first Russian naval ship, the frigate Oryol. According to one source, the ship's Dutch lead engineer Butler faced the need for the flag, and issued a request to the Boyar Duma, to "...ask His Royal Majesty as to which (as is the custom among other nations) flag shall be raised on the ship." The official response merely indicated that, as such issue is as yet unprecedented, even though the land forces do use (apparently different) flags, the tsar ordered that his (Butler's) opinion be sought about the matter, asking specifically as to the custom existing in his country.[3]

A different account traces the origins of the Russian flag to tsar Peter the Great's visits to Arkhangelsk in 1693 and 1694. Peter was keenly interested in shipbuilding in the European style, different from the barges ordinarily used in Russia at the time. In 1693, Peter had ordered a Dutch-built frigate from Amsterdam. In 1694 when it arrived, the Dutch red-white-and-blue banner flew from its stern.[4] Peter decided to model Russia's naval flag after this banner by changing the sequence of colors.

The Dutch flag book of 1695 by Carel Allard, printed only a year after Peter's trip to Western Europe, describes the tricolor with a double-headed eagle bearing a shield on its breast, and wearing a golden crown over both of its heads.


The 1695 flag book by Carel Allard describes three flags used by the tsar of Muscovy: The tricolour with the double-headed eagle bearing a shield on its breast and wearing a golden crown over both of its heads, the tricolour with a blue saltire over it, and a third showing red and white quartering with a blue cross over all.[5]

The Russian tricolour flag was adopted as a merchant flag at rivers in 1705. The choice of colors is significant in that they represent in order of priority, white for God, Blue for king and Red for people and/or country. These colors of the flag of Russia inspired the choice of the "Pan-Slavic colours" by the Prague Slavic Congress, 1848. Two other Slavic countries, Slovakia and Slovenia, have flags similar to the Russian one, but with added coats-of-arms for differentiation. On 7 May 1883, the Russian flag was authorized to be used on land, and it became an official National flag before the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896.

The flag continued to be used by the Russian Provisional Government after the Tsar was toppled in the February Revolution and was not replaced until the October Revolution which established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. From that time period, a 1:2 red flag featuring the abbreviated name "RSFSR" ("РСФСР") was used, until replaced in 1954 with the universal design of the Soviet flag with a blue stripe along the mast. During the Second World War the white-blue-red tricolor has been used by the collaborationist anti-Stalinist troops of Andrey Vlasov, who was allied with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union.[6][7]

Black-and-white sketch of the flag, 1885
National flags of Russia before and after 1896
White army Civil War-era propaganda poster, 1932
President Yeltsin stands in front of the flag on the August Coup, 1991

It was not until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the tricolor was brought back as the official flag of the new Russian Federation. The modern era flag underwent a proportion change in 1993 and has been official since 2000. The National Flag Day is an official holiday in Russia, established in 1994. It is celebrated on 22 August, the day of the victory over putschists in 1991, but employees remain at work.


There are varying interpretations as of to what the colors on the Russian flag mean. The most popular is as follows: The white color symbolizes nobility and frankness, the blue for faithfulness, honesty, impeccability and chastity, and red for courage, generosity and love.[8]

Color specifications[edit]

Scheme White Blue Red
Pantone White 286C 485C
RGB 255-255-255 (#ffffff) 0-57-166 (#0039a6)[9] 213-43-30 (#d52b1e)[10]
HTML #FFFFFF #0039A6 #D52B1E

Variant versions[edit]

Flag of the Tsar
Standard of the president

A variant of the flag was authorized for private use by Tsar Nicholas II before World War I, adding the large state eagle on a yellow field (imperial standard) in a canton in the top left-hand corner. It was never made the official state flag.

When the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, the tricolor design was discarded, and a definitive new flag of the SFSR (one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union) was introduced in 1954 (see flag of Russian SFSR), and this remained the republic's flag until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. All of the Soviet Republics' flags were created by introducing a small but noticeable change to the flag of the Soviet Union. For Russia, the change was an introduction of the left-hand blue band. The previous Soviet design was different, a plain red flag with different variants of the "RSFSR" abbreviation in the canton. Today, the Soviet flag is used by the supporters and members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

The tricolor was used by the anticommunist forces during the Civil War called the White movement. It was continued to be used by White émigrés in various countries as the Russian flag. The tricolor was associated both in Soviet Russia as well as the Russian White emigre communities as symbolizing a traditional tsarist Orthodox Russia. It, as well as the naval ensign of the Imperial Russian Navy was used by anticommunist Russian troops under German command during the Second World War. Both flags can be seen inside a few Orthodox churches in the West established by the Russian communities. In the Soviet Union, this flag was used in films set in the prerevolutionary period and was seen as an historical flag, especially after the 1940s.

It, rather than the black-yellow-white color combination, was readopted by Russia on 22 August 1991. That date is celebrated yearly as the national flag day.[citation needed]

The President of Russia uses a Presidential Standard (Russian: Штандарт Президента), which, since 1994, is officially defined as the tricolor with the coat of arms (at this case the two-headed eagle is depicted without the shield) in the middle.[11]

On the standard (flag) of the President of the Russian Federation Entered into force on February 22, 1994 pravo.gov.ru

During the annual Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, a variant of the Soviet flag that was used during the raising a flag over the Reichstag has the grey hammer and sickle, referred to as the Victory Banner. Under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, an earlier version of the Victory Banner was red with just a golden star on the top.

Military flags[edit]

St. Andrew's flag (error: {{lang-xx}}: text has italic markup (help)) has a white background with two blue diagonal bands, forming a saltire cross associated with St. Andrew. The ratio of the flag's width to its length is 2:3, the width of the blue band is ​110 the length of the flag.

Flag of the Russian Armed Forces
Flag of the Russian Armed Forces
Ensign of the Russian Ground forces
Ensign of the Russian Ground forces
Naval Ensign of the Russian Federation
Naval Ensign of the Russian Federation
Naval Jack of the Russian Federation
Naval Jack of the Russian Federation
Flag of the Russian Aerospace Forces
Flag of the Russian Aerospace Forces
Flag of the Russian Airborne Troops
Flag of the Russian Airborne Troops
Flag of the Russian Space Force
Flag of the Russian Space Force

Historical flags[edit]

Alleged first Russian flag(1668–93)
Alleged first Russian flag
Flag of Tsardom of Russia(1693–1700)
Flag of Tsardom of Russia
The official national flag(1858–83)[12][13]
The official national flag
For private use flag(1914–17)
For private use flag
Flag of the Russian SFSR(1918–37)
Flag of the Russian SFSR
Flag of the Russian SFSR(1937–54)
Flag of the Russian SFSR
Flag of the Russian SFSR(1954–91)
Flag of the Russian SFSR
Flag of the Soviet Union(1922–23)
Flag of the Soviet Union
Unofficial Flag of the Soviet Union (1923)
Unofficial Flag of the Soviet Union (1923)
Flag of the Soviet Union(1923–24)
Flag of the Soviet Union
Flag of the Soviet Union(1924–36)
Flag of the Soviet Union
Flag of the Soviet Union(1936–55)
Flag of the Soviet Union
Flag of the Soviet Union(1955–80)
Flag of the Soviet Union
Flag of the Soviet Union(1980–91)
Flag of the Soviet Union
Flag of the Russian SFSR(Aug–Dec 1991)and the Russian Federation(1991–93)[14][15]
Flag of the Russian SFSR
(AugDec 1991)
and the Russian Federation


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hulme, Frederick Edward (1897-01-01). The Flags of the World: Their History, Blazonry and Associations. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 9781465543110. 
  2. ^ Greenway, H. D. S. (2014-08-19). Foreign Correspondent: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster. p. 228. ISBN 9781476761329. 
  3. ^ Flag T.H. Eriksen & R. Jenkins, Nation and Symbolism in Europe and America. Abingdon, 2007, p. 23
  4. ^ Robert K. Massie, Peter the Great, 160 (Modern Library Edition 2012)
  5. ^ Russian flags at Flags of the World
  6. ^ Lilia Shevtsova: Putin's Russia. Carnegie Endowment, 2010. p. 114
  7. ^ Kathleen E. Smith: Mythmaking in the New Russia: Politics and Memory During the Yeltsin Era. Cornell University Press, 2002. p. 160
  8. ^ Государственный флаг России. Статья на сайте Политического консультативного центра
  9. ^ Pantone 286 C
  10. ^ Pantone 485 C
  11. ^ per Decree No. 319 of 15 February 1994
  12. ^ Whitney Smith, Flags Through the Ages and Across the World, 1975. "The black-orange-white flag was very unpopular, so much so that the government felt compelled on 7 May 1883 to recognize the white-blue-red as official for use on land during celebrations. Hence the flag intended for unrestricted use was rarely seen in prerevolutionary Russia, while the flag restricted to special occasions was in fact the most likely to be hoisted whenever private citizens wished to express their nationality by displaying a flag on land."[1]
  13. ^ Currently being used by ultra-nationalists and monarchists
  14. ^ Resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR from 22 August 1991 "On the national flag of the Russian SFSR"
  15. ^ Law "On Amendments and Additions to the Constitution (Basic Law) of the Russian SFSR" from 1 November 1991

External links[edit]